Strategy Guide to Betting on Baseball
Why don’t we just cut to the chase? You landed on this page because you want the tips and tricks to help you win money when betting baseball games. We aren’t going to waste your time with any information or sections that aren’t specifically designed to do exactly that.
Baseball is unlike any other major sport. The length of the season and copious amounts of data make the betting landscape a wide-open field that’s ripe for the picking. We are going to break down the things that will give you the best chance of being profitable.
You must know how to approach betting a baseball game before you start blindly making picks.
We are going to go through the detailed factors you should be considering before placing wagers. We will even recommend what types of bets you can be looking to capitalize on.
Our goal is for you to leave this page feeling familiar, comfortable, and ready to pounce the next time you are betting baseball.
Let’s dive right in!
Factors to Consider Before Betting on Baseball Games
Once you’ve found the right sportsbooks for your needs and you have a decent understanding of Major League Baseball and the history of the game, it’s time to start handicapping games. After all, how can you determine the value a line offers if you can’t accurately model how the game will play out?
First, we are going to go over some of the necessary information to study when you are predicting how a baseball game will play out. These are some of the things everybody looks at, so don’t think knowing this automatically makes you an expert.
However, they are the first, base-level things you need to consider before digging deeper.
The most important position in all of baseball is the starting pitcher. Their performance dictates team success more than any other position. This is why you see such large lines in games on those days that an “ace pitcher” is starting.
- For example:
In 2017, the Dodgers were playing a 3-game series with the Padres. The Dodgers were -200 and -210 in the first two games, respectively.
With Clayton Kershaw on the hill for the third game of the series, the Dodgers ballooned up to -360.
Most casual bettors will focus exclusively on the starting pitchers when deciding which side to bet. They will look at the two starters’ statistics and solely use those numbers to base their decision.
Don’t fall for this all-too-simple strategy alone. It’s a great start, but should just be the start, and not the end-all, be-all statistic to hang your hat on.
There is much more than what meets the eye when it comes to these surface-level statistics. There are many more factors to be aware of that will affect the outcome of a game.
Baseball is unique in that the playing surface changes from park to park. Each park has different proportions, meaning different distances from home plate to the various walls. The walls vary in height, depending on which city you are in.
While things like the bases and the foul lines are all uniform, these differing outfields have a significant effect on the how a game will play out.
Some parks are friendlier to hitters, while others benefit pitchers more. Make sure to research the effect that parks have on an offense when you are handicapping your games. Also look into things like whether the park is more advantageous to left-handed or right-handed hitters, then compare those stats to the teams playing there.
Another surface-level bit of information to research is the last couple weeks of performances for each team. Check to see if they are on a winning streak or if they are slumping. See if they have been giving up lots of runs lately, or if they have been scoring lots of runs themselves.
How does each team’s current trajectory compare to the others? Next, predict how things will play out when these two face each other.
There’s much more to analyze when handicapping a game, but being aware of both parties’ last couple weeks of performances is significant information you will want to have your hands on.
- What does the recent schedule of the two teams playing look like?
- Is one team in the middle of a 9-game home stand?
- Maybe one team played on the west coast last night and has to travel east for an early morning game?
While traveling nowadays is a bit easier and faster, don’t think long plane rides and playing in different time zones shouldn’t be accounted for. This by no means is a statistic to live and die by.
There are plenty of instances when players can travel on little to no sleep and still perform the next day. However, in these circumstances, generally by game two of the series, the lack of rest begins to catch up to the players.
A team coming off an extra-inning game or a significantly emotional game is certainly a candidate for a lackluster performance the following day.
These are just a few of the key factors to consider the next time you are scouring the online sites looking for a bet to make. The formula for becoming a successful baseball bettor all starts with understanding the key influences that affect how a game is played.
Now that you have a good grasp on what to be focusing on, let’s examine some bets you can make that will help you get to profitability.
Paying attention to the umpires, specifically who is calling strikes and balls behind home plate, can give you a betting edge over other bettors. There are certain umpires that are known to have “tighter strike zones” than others.
On the flip side, some umpires call strikes much more generously.
Think about it. If an ace pitcher is on the mound and the umpire is calling a loose game, batters are going to struggle. The best pitchers in the game are talented enough. Once you start giving them a larger strike zone, the hitters are at a significant disadvantage.
This combination of an ace pitcher and an umpire who calls a loose zone is a prime contender to bet the UNDER.
On the flip side, let’s say we have an unknown pitcher who was just called up and is making his major league debut. Say he is paired with an umpire who is calling a smaller strike zone. Here we have a pitcher likely to allow baserunners and give up runs.
We also have an umpire who has a history of calling fewer strikes, meaning more batters reach base.
This a perfect storm to anticipate a lot of runs being scored, hence betting the OVER. Don’t get too caught up with which umpire is behind home plate, but don’t be afraid to do some research and find out who is in charge of calling balls and strikes.
You may be surprised at how much this tip helps you attack the over and under bets.
Basic Major League Baseball Bets to Make
Parlays aren’t always going to be your best friend when it comes to betting sports at the virtual sportsbooks online. This doesn’t mean that numerous “parlay opportunities” won’t present themselves over the course of a Major League Baseball season.
Take a peek below at some of the opportunities we are referring to.
Parlay Two Heavy Favorites
This is a pretty straightforward strategy. It does not expose the sports bettor to much risk, and thus does not pay out as handsomely. However, it does pay out a better reward than betting either of the favorites individually.
To win money betting on favorites individually, you are going to have to lay more money up front. By combining your favorites, you can win a moderate reward without risking a huge chunk.
Parlay Pairing a Favorite with Different Underdogs
This is another parlay bet with a smart balance of risk versus ease of winning. It’s a good bet for beginners. When betting baseball parlays, first identify a heavy favorite that is strongly expected to win. Then play that same pick on two or more separate parlay tickets, paired with different underdogs on each parlay card.
For example, find a heavy favorite, preferably a team in the -200 range. Then identify two or more underdogs in the +150 range. You then make two or more separate parlay bets. Each card will have the favorite and one of the underdogs.
Correlate Your Parlays
Correlating your parlays is a standard way of betting on a game that allows you to make several bets on the same team in the same game. For instance, when betting on a team with a high-powered offense to win, it is logical to pair that bet with an “over” bet.
Similarly, if you are betting on a team because of the strength of their defense or pitching, it makes sense that if they win, the game will be going “under.” Although there are exceptions to this rule, it’s an excellent way to get multiple wagers in on a single game that you feel you’ve accurately forecasted.
When picking a winner, project the outcome of the game either in your mind or by using statistical models. How sophisticated and involved your approach is to betting is up to you and depends on if you see betting as a hobby or a serious business.
Whatever your method is, after handicapping a game, you are inherently aware of the circumstances that will need to take place for a team to win. Correlating parlays is just a way of doubling your action on a single game and betting consistently with the most likely outcomes in mind.
Diversify Your Parlays
Let’s say that for an upcoming week you’ve selected four or five games that you feel confident in betting. It can feel tempting to play them all on one parlay card and hope for a hefty payday. While this is an option, casting a wider net and giving yourself a better chance of winning some percentage of your bets is the smarter option.
- For example:
Let’s say you’ve handicapped four games and feel confident in your prediction for each outcome. To diversify your parlays, you are going to place several three-team parlay bets. Each card will consist of a different combination of three of your four picks.
If only one pick loses, that pick won’t be on all of your tickets. You still may potentially turn a profit.
Develop a Niche and Follow It Closely
The most prominent sporting events and most popular teams receive the most attention from the oddsmakers and are bet the heaviest by the casual public. Due to these factors, you are less likely to find value in the odds.
That’s why it’s best to focus on less popular teams or identify a specific niche to specialize in. It can be a particular wager type or a distinct set of criteria that you look for before placing a bet.
By developing a specialty, you will have a unique knowledge set to exploit at the expense of the bookies. The sportsbooks must spend most of their focus on the broadly watched games and favorite teams that the casual bettors flock to.
Trying to find weaknesses in the line is the driving idea of handicapping, so specializing in niche areas can make all the difference.
Being a successful baseball bettor isn’t an exact science.
Remember, handicapping games is an ever-evolving practice. You will need to continuously track which factors seem to correlate with the outcome of the game, and prioritize those stats. You must also continually tweak your data sets and determine which data is just noise and should be weighted less.
Whether it is looking at the starting pitchers and bullpens or doing homework on the ballpark or who the umpires are, constantly looking at data is what’s going to keep you ahead of your betting counterparts.
Our goal was to provide you with the information and factors to take into account when preparing to place future baseball wagers. The segments above are those influences that are going to determine outcomes, so you’ll want to be on top of the data.
Of course, giving you some tips and guidance as far as what types of bets can show a positive return was at the forefront of our minds. Understanding the value in how to intelligently create parlay cards can make a huge difference in your bottom line.
With refinement, discipline, and sound betting strategies, you can turn a profit while only having to win a little more often than the very worst teams in baseball!